Back in the days of running a home improvement company, I was focused on getting leads for tomorrow and the next day. That emphasis, of course, led to a few things...
- Lower lead quality—Trying to keep a “run sheet” (list of leads) full tomorrow and the next day led me to be OK with sacrificing quality for quantity.
- Higher spend—The necessity of keeping enough leads required a higher level of spending to create immediate demand.
- Higher turnover in the sales team—The volatility of generating leads this way made me make decisions on who was going to run the lead based on “who closed the best,” rather than who was the right person. I picked winners, losers and those in the middle. Because of that, I spent a lot of time and effort recruiting, hiring and training those in the last two groups.
- Lower nets—With many of the techniques, lead qualification suffered. Coupled with old-school selling processes, rescissions and credit rejections were more the rule than the exception.
Things have changed, and as much as I dislike this word, it’s true in this case. There’s a new “paradigm.” Then again, it may not be so new.
Using a Funnel to Guide the Buyers Decision Process
B2B companies use a funnel to track leads through a buying process. We do that here with our Territory Managers.
More and more home improvement companies are moving towards this model as well. This change is being driven by several things...
- Changes in the buying process—Today it’s very rare that a homeowner wakes up and says “I need new windows,” then picks up the phone and calls three companies to come out and give an estimate. There’s a distinct process that homeowners go through. As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that they’re at least 60% through that process before they’ll reach out to you.
- Necessity to increase lead quality—Owners are looking to be more efficient and more profitable by recognizing better leads lead to higher closing percentages.
- Increase ROI—Dealers understand that today’s buyers rely mostly on the internet to do their research. Marketing via the internet is much less expensive, as a percentage of revenue, than its high-cost, scattershot media counterparts.
- Size of market—We talked before about how, for any product or service, only 3% percent of that market is ready to lay their money down and “purchase.” For our purposes, “purchasing” means “setting an appointment.” Obsessing just over today and tomorrow appointments means ignoring a much larger group of potential buyers.
The funnel model has the intention of grabbing the prospect as early in the process as possible, and guiding them through the journey they take before they make their ultimate purchase. Next time we’ll go through each of those steps in more detail.
Smaller Funnel, Poor Results
In the past, as we mentioned, the funnel was small (today and tomorrow leads) and all of our competitors were after that smaller pool of leads as well. We did things like TV, radio, or newspaper, with some kind of unrelated hook, to try and create demand. Someone sitting at home watching a movie on a Saturday afternoon would see our spot, and call the number flashing on the screen.
I can remember being at dealer locations where someone would say, “OK, the spot is running, get ready.” All of a sudden, the phones would light up. The problem was that there were a large percentage of those folks that really weren’t in the market for the product, but just wanted the freebie...money wasted.
Today’s savvy home improvement marketer realizes that for every 3 today/tomorrow leads that they get, there’s 97 others that will probably buy from someone once they complete their research
Making the Funnel Model Work
Obviously, the key action that you must get good at is figuring out how to get them into your funnel.
One of the most effective, and low cost, ways to attract them is by answering their questions. Once you get them there, you have to capture some minimal amount of information so that you can begin to guide their research and move them down the funnel. Rather than try to explain that whole process, it may be easier to have you experience it yourself.
So, now they’re in your funnel. It’s time to sit around and wait for them to call you, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Remember the discussion about a consumer doing up to 60% of their research before they’ll reach out to you?
To have the most success at a funnel lead generation model, you have to learn how to successfully guide the home improvement buyer’s decision process.
Fortunately, consumers themselves have taken a lot of the guess work out of this journey. In early 2016, Consumer Specialists did a 10 year later follow up extensive survey called“Changing Approaches To Home Improvement.”
The survey is filled with tons of information about the whole buying process, including extensive material about generational preferences about research, DIY, etc.
Four Areas of Concentration
Generally, there are four main areas driving todays home improvement buyer’s decision making process. Each of those, as well as implications for how you can use them to your advantage are listed below:
- Getting ideas on styles/appearances—After cost, this is the most important decision making piece across all generations. Make sure you are highlighting glass area, different window styles and available appearance-based options. Designers/visualizers are important tools that expose potential buyers to available options and allows them to create their unique window.
- Determining if contractor is needed to do all or part of project—There are lots of DIY’ers in the Gen X and Millennial groups. Do you offer the ability to sell the windows direct, allowing them to handle installation? Alternatively, make sure you have information available on the importance of proper installation.
- Length of time for completion—Always a concern, even more so today. A great way to highlight this is to make sure some of your reviews and testimonials from homeowners mention how your team completed the job in a timely manner, including clean up.
- Latest info on products and materials—If you offer downloads of brochures or other product information materials today, offer twice as many tomorrow. This allows the homeowner to move their research process forward without having to talk with anyone.
One of the less obvious benefits of funnel based marketing is its positive effect on overall lead quality. As you are moving people through the buyer’s decision process, they continue to receive high quality, beneficial information from you in a non-threatening manner. Once they do make it into that 3% that are ready to see you, there’s a higher level of trust than if they just picked you out of a list to immediately come and see them.
What are you and your team doing to reach those 97 people?